Dan Reed Network, Origins Tour – The Venue, Derby, 23/11/2018
After seeing the DRN at the Steelhouse Festival during the summer for the first time, and wondering at the time, how he would fit into the line up considering it included the likes of Glenn Hughes, Phil Campbell and the Black Star Riders to name a few, I was intrigued to see if he could smash a small stage the same way he destroyed the stage at Steelhouse.
My fears where ill founded, after being my favourite of the weekend, he hits the stage where he had left off back in July. Coming onto ‘Rock You All Night Long’ he was straight on it. His charismatic personality was spilling over as he danced and sang his way through the opening number. Occasionally stopping and looking at the gathered crowd, which must have easily topped 200, Dan smiled and then with arms outstretched he’s off into the crowd favourite, ‘Divided’. Keyboard intro then straight into a rock riff and Dan’s kicking the groove, effortlessly singing, his voice maybe a little deeper than in his heyday, but still as wholesome and more-ish.
With a band behind him that dig’s this fusion of funk and rock gives Dan has a great stage to perform. Equally as exuberant Brion James, on guitar, cuts a fine sound, and as he cuts loose his braids, blonde in colour, take on a life of their own somewhat akin to medusa as they twist and turn, flying around Brion’s head. Funky bass man Melvin Brannon II is Dan’s pillar of groove, smashing out the deep bass, guitar behind his head as he feels fit, locked into drummer Dan Pred, who is sat at the back often covered in smoke as he keeps the whole band moving along. Keyboards are currently filled by Rob Daiker, tapping out that trademark sound on the keys one minute then the next he’s up front with a guitar, a great multi instrumentalist.
Singing from a huge back catalogue we’re treated to a range of favourites including ‘Rainbow Child’, ‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Doin’ The Love Thing’ from ‘Slam’. ‘Champion’ from the album ‘Fight Another Day’ starts off with the ‘Eye of the Storm’, and then from the album ‘The Heat’ we have ‘Baby Now’ which includes references to ‘Relax’, ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Infectious Groove’ and ’I Was Made For Loving You’. Great stuff and the crowd think so too by singing along.
To finish the night off we have an Accapella version of ‘Long Way to Go’, also from the album ‘The Heat’. Another crowd favourite and a truly fitting way to the end the night.
Dan first hit the stage back in the 80’s and maybe due to a bit of bad timing, he never found the fame that he both deserved and was pegged for him. Move on to 2018 and we have a band full of the same zest and drive as if they had just formed. Entertaining, exciting and enjoyable are just a few words to describe this great man, obviously enjoying his renewed fame. 80’s nostalgia brought up to date with soaring guitars and a dynamic front man makes this sound seem fresh and new.
If, like me, you’re new to the DRN sound get out there and catch him live, what a show!
Prior to DNR we have two young bands given the chance to show themselves. Hollowstar and Mason Hill. Both have been doing the rounds on this year’s summer festival circuit. Hollowstar give a healthy account of themselves, tight and rocking they blow the cobwebs away after a miserable day at work. Interacting with the crowd like old hands the band put on a great if short show. Making way for Scottish rockers Mason Hill. This band I’ve seen two or three times already this summer. Never disappointing, Mason Hill’s front man, Scott Taylor prowls the stage, foot on monitor he delivers a powerful vocal, local boy James Bird on guitar gets a shout out during the set, family in the crowd cheer him extra loud. Mathew Ward has a strong neck because not only is he throwing the Bass around, his hair must be getting air miles with the amount of movement its getting tonight.
Both bands have received high accolades over the summer, featuring in various poles and rightly so. Both play outstanding sets and cement once and for all that they’re certainly serious about what they do without seeming pompous or arrogant. Catch them while they’re still gathering steam as they’re certainly a couple of great bands to watch!
Words & photographs: Manny Manson